Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Digest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Digest

Article excerpt

Blast rocks chemical

plant in Louisiana

A ground-rattling explosion Thursday at a chemical plant in Louisiana ignited a blaze that killed one person and injured dozens of others, authorities said. Witnesses described a chaotic scene of flames as high as 200 feet and workers scrambling over gates to escape the plant.

A thick plume of black smoke rose from the plant after the blast even after the fire was extinguished. At a roadblock several miles away where family members waited anxiously to hear about loved ones, flames were still easily visible above the trees even hours later.

Louisiana's health department said 77 people were treated at hospitals, with 51 being released by the evening. Hospitals reported that workers mostly had burns, cardiac and respiratory issues and bruises, health department spokeswoman Christina Stephens said in a news release.

A body was found by hazardous materials crews going through the aftermath of the blast at the facility, state police Capt. Doug Cain said. Police identified the man killed as Zachary C. Green, 29, of Hammond, La.

The company said the blast happened at 8:37 a.m. at the plant in an industrial area of Geismar, a Mississippi River community about 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge. The cause was not immediately known but terrorism wasn't suspected.

House OKs 2-year term for military sexual assault * Angered by the epidemic of sexual assault in the military, the House on Thursday endorsed a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for a member of the armed services convicted of rape or sexual assault in a military court.

By voice vote, the House approved the additional punishment as part of a series of steps lawmakers have taken to tackle the growing problem of sexual assault. The provisions are contained in a sweeping defense policy bill for the 2014 fiscal year beginning Oct. …

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